How to Glaze Pottery Like a Pro

There are many possibilities when it comes to glazing your pottery work. You can create colorful patterns or unique mineral reactions with differing glaze temperatures and applications. Glazing pottery can be intimidating if you’re a beginner, but we don’t want it to be! 

Our DiamondCore® Tools team will review ceramic glaze, how to glaze your pottery and the types of glazes available to create the best finished ceramic piece. 

What is Ceramic Glaze?

Pottery glaze is a coating applied to bisqueware to decorate, waterproof and create a food-safe ceramic piece. Glazes consist of a mix of silica, fluxes and aluminum oxide. 

If you heat silica high enough, it can turn into glass. However, its melting temperature is too high for kilns, which is why it’s combined with a mixture of fluxes that prevent oxidation and lower the melting point. 

Adding aluminum oxide to the glaze allows it to adhere to the surface of your clay piece without running off. A wide variety of mineral oxides create various glaze colors. 

You can apply many pottery glazing techniques to create unique and colorful patterns. If you’re mixing glazes, check to ensure they fire at the same temperature.  

How to Glaze Pottery

Overall, glazing pottery is relatively simple. You mix your glaze according to the instructions on the package, apply it to your clay piece, let it dry and load your finished work into the kiln for the glaze firing. 

Slowly bring the kiln to the proper temperature, allow the glaze to melt to the pottery piece, then slowly cool. The process usually takes about 20 hours:  8 hours to fire and another 12 to cool down. 

Let’s go through the process step by step.  

Prepare your glaze

  • Before you mix your glaze, ensure you have the proper safety equipment to avoid inhaling dust or irritating your skin and eyes. We recommend wearing a mask or respirator, gloves and goggles, and mixing the glaze in a well-ventilated area.
  • Measure and sieve all dry ingredients together. It’s helpful to have two buckets: one with all the dry ingredients and another to sieve them into.
  • Mix your chosen glaze powder with water. You’ll measure out the water according to the package instructions. You can adjust your glaze's viscosity by adding more water if necessary. 
  • Pour the glaze through the sieve again to remove any lumps.
  • Let your glaze stand for at least 15 minutes before remixing and applying the glaze to your clay art. 

Apply the Glaze

  • Remove all dust from your bisqueware with a damp sponge, and ensure your piece is completely dry before glazing.
  • Mix your glaze well before applying it to ensure a smooth consistency. 
  • You can apply your glaze in different ways. You can dip your bisque-fired ceramic into the glaze, pour it on or directly brush it on for more precise application. 
  • Apply two to three coats of glaze.
  • Wipe off any glaze that has dripped to the bottom of your piece before firing. This will prevent it from sticking to the kiln. 
  • Put your piece to the side to dry. Most pieces will dry completely if left uncovered in three to four days.
  • Once dry, fire your glaze according to the instructions on the package. Firing your piece at the wrong temperature can cause your art to crack in the kiln. 

Different Types of Glaze

Different types of glaze allow you to create unique ceramic effects, depending on your style or the piece you’re trying to create. 

Glossy, Satin and Matte Glazes

Much like paints for your walls, glossy, matte and satin glazes create different effects on the clay’s surface. 

  • Glossy glazes create a shiny, reflective surface.
  • Matte glazes dull the surface. 
  • Satin is between these two glaze types and produces a semi-shine on the surface of your bisqueware. 

Glaze Temperatures

Different types of glazes also fire at different temperatures, affecting your pottery's final look. There are low-, mid- and high-fire glazes.

  • Low-fire glazes. Low-fired glazes are fired at 1,845 degrees Fahrenheit. The results of low-fired glazes are more predictable and don’t melt together much or at all. This glaze type is excellent when you have a specific design that needs more control and precision. 
  • Mid-fire glazes. Mid-fired glazes are fired at 2,192 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the glaze will often have more variation and melt together to create unique effects. 
  • High-fire glazes. High-fired glazes will help you to create the hardest, most durable ceramics, perfect for dinnerware. Fired at 2,305 degrees Fahrenheit, this temperature is best for stoneware or porcelain. The color range is more limited for this glazed type. 
If you have any questions about how to glaze pottery, we’re here to help! Leave a comment or get in touch with our team on social media. We’re on Facebook and Instagram and can’t wait to help!

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